I wrote this blog last week, but felt like it was appropriate to be posted today, when we simultaneously give thanks for all that we have in our lives (the people, the jobs, the homes), celebrate a mass genocide and prepare ourselves to buy more potentially unnecessary material possessions, simply because it is cheap. Today has been one of the hardest days for me to prepare for, seeing the excess of food, the waste that goes into preparing for the holiday, and the lack of mindfulness about the historical significance of what we are truly celebrating. (Check out this article for a bit of context: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/thanksgiving-annual-genocide-whitewash-171120073022544.html). I know that it is a real downer to hear about the origins of a well-loved holiday, and it is certainly not a convenient truth that makes us feel positively towards our culture, but it is an important impetus for a more mindful experience. It is up to the individual to decide what is just and right, and for me that is to spend time with my family and appreciate all that they have done for me in order to give me the best possible chance at living a great life.
I have long been an advocate of the minimalist lifestyle – from the mentally freeing space that it gives me to ponder, create and reinvent to the positive impact on the environment, I appreciate the positives of this way of living to the utmost degree. Since my return back to the States, I have decided that in order to live more authentically and in the best way that I know how, I have to devote myself even more fully to living with as little material possession as possible. This has taken more time, energy and thoughtfulness than I imagined, because I don’t just want to dump everything into the trash to become an even greater part of our global waste problem. Part of the mindfulness comes from not polluting the Earth anymore than it already has been, and that means making sure that the items I am getting rid of end up in the right hands to either be reused or recycled. Through a ton of research, asking questions and locating community resources, I have compiled the best donation points for the different categories that I have sorted through. I hope that this helps in locating the best avenues to give your gently used goods to, if you are on your own path to minimalizing, or you just want to do good for others and clean out some unused items in the process.
Bridesmaids Dresses –
- Becca’s Closet: collection point is in Thomasville where you can drop off dresses for girls who cannot afford to go to prom. Girls are able to come by and pick out a dress from the donated items free of charge.http://www.beccascloset.org/
- Girl Talk Foundation: collection points in the Charlotte area beginning January 2018. Girls come and take a 90 minute class on etiquette from local professionals before picking out their dresses free of charge.https://www.girltalkfoundationinc.com/programs/prom-project/
Clothing/Furniture/Household Appliances –
- Plato’s Closet: buys name brand, gently used clothing and accessories, offering cash or in store credit for trades. They are a bit more picky about what they take, since they are located near the University and keep up to date with style and current fashion.https://www.platoscloset.com/
- Buffalo Exchange: buys gently used clothing and accessories, offering cash or in store credit. Even more picky than Plato’s Closet since they are in a very (slowly gentrifying) Hipster part of the city, in my opinion.https://www.buffaloexchange.com/locations/charlotte/charlotte/
- Crisis Assistance Ministry: provides clothing and household goods to those in need (albeit with the correct documentation to prove that they are “truly in need”) free of charge in their “Free Store”. They also offer tax deductible receipts.https://crisisassistance.org/donate-clothing-and-household-goods/ways-to-give/
- Goodwill: Probably the best known of all the donation stores. Convenient drive-through locations allow for simple drop offs, and they offer job placement, career counseling and training to local community members. The Goodwill Center off of Wilkinson, near the airport, even houses an amazingly staffed Community Clinic for those without health insurance or a primary care doctor. Tax deductible receipts when you donate, and they offer pick up for large items.https://goodwillsp.org/donate/
- The National Kidney Services: Donations go towards kidney disease research at the National Kidney Foundation, furthering education and advocacy programs in the Carolinas. They are best known for picking up larger items from your home if you schedule with them in advance.http://nkspickup.com/
- Lydia’s Loft: Located on the outskirts of Huntersville, this organization accepts donations of clothing and household appliances on their back porch due to their limited hours of in-store presence. They allow community members to come in and free shop their inventory after a referral is made from a school counselor or pastor. They also accept volunteers or monetary donations.
- The Last Word: buys books at a low cost, offers cash or in store credit.http://thelastwordcharlotte.com/
- Book Buyers: buys books at a low cost, offers store credit only, also located in Plaza Midwood next to Akahana.https://www.charlotteagenda.com/22856/three-used-book-stores-you-need-to-know-in-charlotte/
- Public Library: They are always accepting book donations, either to stock their shelves as funding gets cut or to sell at yard sales where the proceeds go directly to the library itself.https://www.cmlibrary.org/
If you are like me, then you accumulated a lot of these items during your adolescent years, trying to figure out what works for your hair and skin. Before throwing out the product and recycling the bottles, see if you can pass them along to someone else who can use them.
- Women’s Shelter: In Charlotte, the Shelter for Battered Women informed me that they only accept non-used products, but do accept donations. Most of my items were opened, so this was not an option for me. Consider giving away all of those (unopened) hotel bottles and soaps or Christmas lotions that you have been hoarding to this shelter.http://www.safealliance.org/programs/domestic-violence-shelter/
- Online re-sell stores: Some of these organizations, like Glambot, buy used makeup, sanitize and resell at low costs. They only accept name brand makeup, so keep that in mind if you are a low cost product purchaser.https://www.glambot.com/sell
If your technology is still in working order and you think that someone might be able to use it in the future, trade them in to Best Buy or your phone store of choice, or sell it to a technology resale shop. If you emulate my lack of kindness to technology and it doesn’t quite work well enough, you can find another option in phone recycling.
- EcoATM: There are many kiosks found throughout Charlotte, most located in malls like Northlake and Walmart shops. You can trade your phone in for cash on the spot, depending on the quality and usability of your phone, in less than 5 minutes. The organization then takes the phone and uses it for parts or recycles it in a way that doesn’t damage the environment with the possibility of leeching chemicals into the ground at landfills.https://www.ecoatm.com/
- SafeAlliance: They accept phone donations which they sell to a third party retailer, who then gives a part of that money back to SafeAlliance to continue helping those in need and victims of sexual assault.http://www.safealliance.org/get-involved/collection-drives/
If you are familiar with any other worthwhile organizations in the Charlotte area, please comment them below so that others can have access to as many resources as possible.